Amy Novacek’s service dogs Buddy and Hank transformed her life by providing her balance, health monitoring and freedom as she recovers from the aftermath of a devastating car collision. As a Labradoodle breeder, Amy is helping to better the lives of others in need by raising the friendly, hypoallergenic breed for service-dog use.
Read on to discover just a few of the incredible stories of how pups hailing from the Novaceks’ 84 Labradoodles breeding program are changing lives.
Sarah & Oliver
Sarah writes: “At the age of 18, I was infected with a rare polio-like virus called Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM). My entire central nervous system was involved, leaving me paralyzed, intubated and not aware of the situation. While lying helpless in an ICU bed, a team of University of Texas–Southwestern physicians began treating me for this virus that is not understood. I was in a fight for my life and while medicine was doing its part, I had visitors in my bed—the therapy dog team doing their part!
“After waking up nearly 30 days later, I saw pictures of these dogs and asked my mom who they were. As I became stronger, I realized my life was ever changing and would be faced with great challenges. I discussed with my physician and parents about getting my own labradoodle support dog to walk this journey with me. God lead my mom to meet a woman in the mall with a service dog—Amy Novacek and Buddy! Amy handpicked my puppy, Oliver, from the new liter. I came home after four months in the hospital and met Oliver, who has been my buddy and support ever since!”
Oliver even helped Sarah walk across the stage at graduation!
Nova the First Responder
First responder dogs are key teammates to police in tense situations. Like living, breathing teddy
bears (often given to children as comfort during traumatic situations like house fires), these dogs bring a calming presence to a room and can help soothe upset individuals, who can stroke and snuggle the dogs as needed.
Nova partners with the Tarrant County Sheriff’s office, and Amy’s seen the immediate effect the
Labradoodle’s presence has on victims, police employees and even inmates.
“That’s the idea—to bring comfort and help de-stress people by bringing the dog into tense situations, or to the employees of the police stations or even to jails,” Amy explained. “Dogs bring happiness, and that is the root of this program.”
The program is still in its infancy, but Amy hopes to someday provide a first responder dog to every sheriff’s office in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Phoebe & Mazie
Phoebe’s mom, Jennifer, writes:
“My children have always longed to have a dog, but due to severe allergies we always assumed that having a dog would never be a possibility. About two years ago, we met this amazing puppy, Stella, who belongs to our friends; Stella is a Nocavek puppy.
What was so surprising was we didn’t have allergy issues being around her. Spending time with Stella was therapeutic for my kiddos and for myself. Eventually, Stella’s owner suggested that we should think about getting a service dog.
Over several months, the talk and dream of a service dog became a reality when we were approved through Helping Hands for funding and Stella’s owner generously offered to foster our puppy for the first six months. It all still seemed like a dream—too good be actually be coming together so perfectly—but it was really happening!
I will never forget the day that we drove out to the Novacek’s Ranch to pick out our puppy, the puppy who would forever change our lives. When we walked into the kitchen and saw all of the cute puppies pawing for attention I couldn’t help but notice one specific puppy hiding out under the cabinets. I was instantly drawn to this one puppy.
As we all got to know the puppies we were all drawn to the puppy from under the cabinet. She had brown paws, was on the smaller side, was mellow, and we all fell in love with her. It didn’t take long before we knew that she was the one. She was our Mazie!
I remember whispering in her ear that day, ‘Mazie, you are going to be so very loved. You are going to have a big job to fulfill, but I know that you will be the perfect dog to do it.’
Over the first six months, we got to spend time and bond with Mazie—it was such a blessing. She came to live with us for good at Christmastime. She—or I should say we—continues to receive weekly training and guidance.
Mazie is mainly for my 9-year-old daughter, Phoebe, who deals with Rapid Onset Hypoglycemia. Phoebe has dealt with chronic life-threatening health conditions for most of her life. Some of these conditions are: food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome, intestinal failure, and Ehlers Danlos Type 3. Mazie has already been working on detecting Phoebe’s glucose lows.
I also have a 15-year-old daughter, Karis, who has chronic life-threatening health issues. One of her more significant health conditions is Addison’s Disease. Mazie recently surprised us when she instinctively detected that Karis was having an adrenal crisis. Karis had recently been discharged from the hospital and was dealing with several infections. Mazie, sensing that Karis was not well, stayed up all night long sitting and laying by Karis, never leaving her side. The next morning, Karis told me what Mazie had done.
You see, Karis has so many health issues that have overlapping symptoms and sometimes it is hard to figure out what is causing the symptoms. Well, I had not been treating her Addison’s aggressively enough, because I was thinking it was one of her other conditions causing the problem. Well, after Mazie alerting all night I aggressively treated her Addison’s and her health took a positive turn. Dogs’ instincts are amazing! Mazie is not yet a year old and she is already protecting and alerting to not only Phoebe’s health issues but to Karis’s too.”
In the future, the Novaceks hope to give the healing and helping power of their Labradoodles to our country’s heroes: U.S. veterans in need. However the costs of breeding, raising, training and caring for a service dog are high. Amy and Jay are working with veterinarians and trainers find ways to provide these services at no or reduced cost to the veteran. Visit their Facebook page to learn more, nominate a veteran or help with the cause.